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THE BULL.HEADED PREMIER                   93

promoted unknown and unqualified men who were smart enough to
agree with him and use him for their own purposes. To make it easier
to distinguish the three notorious characters, I have given them a more
familiar spelling: Leeding, Sudan, and Dunquan. Leeding was a man
who concealed the news of his mother's death to avoid going out of
office, a daring offence in Confucian society. Dunquan is remembered
by posterity as the author of the famous saying: "Let them all laugh
who want to laugh; a good official post is mine." But the arch sup-
porters of Wang Anshih were two extremely active and persuasive
talkers of great scheming ability, Tseng Pu and Lu Huiching, particu-
larly the latter, who eventually double-crossed Wang Anshih in an
effort to supersede him. The collapse of this eight-year regime was
summarised by a contemporary as follows: "Huiching sold out Wang
Anshih, Wang Anshih sold out the Emperor, and the Emperor sold
out the people." When Huiching stooped to publishing Wang's private
letters to alienate him from the Emperor, Wang was overthrown, and
in his old age he used to spend his fury over the turn-coat friend by
scribbling the word "Fukienite" a few times every day, Fukien'being
the province from which Huiching came. When Su Tungpo met
Wang Anshih in Nanking after the regime was over, and rebuked him
for starting wars and persecuting scholars, Wang replied that Huiching
was responsible for all the doings. This is hardly a plausible defence,
since it was Wang himself who insisted on dealing harshly with all
opposition, and since the institution of espionage at the capital against
critics of the government was established during the period when
Huiching was in retirement in mourning for his father, between April
1071 and July 1073.

Otherwise, the two leaders of the opposite factions, Wang Anshih
and Szema Kuang, while uncompromising in their fight over govern-
ment policies, were both sincere in their convictions and above reproach
in their private lives. Neither was ever accused of corruption in money
matters or of looseness of morals, while Ouyang Shiu was at least
alleged to have had some affairs in his private household.

Once Wang Anshih's wife, Wu, had bought a concubine for her
husband. When the woman was presented, Wang asked, in surprise:
"What is that thing?"

"The Madame has asked me to serve you," replied the woman.

"But who are you?" asked Wang again.

"My husband," replied the woman, "was working with the army in
charge of a boat-load of government rice. The boat sank &nd he lost
the whole cargo. We sold all our property to restore the loss but still
could not make up the amount. And so my husband sold me to pay
for the balance."

"How much were you sold for?" asked Wang.